Natalie Tinney

Every year on Audrey’s birthday it was tradition for her mother to repeat the story of her birth. “25 years ago today I was in the delivery room, maxed out on opiates, tufts of my own hair clenched in my fists. The doctor tried to calm me down by asking, ‘What are you going to name the baby?’ and I answered, ‘If it is a girl I suppose will name her Audrey. It’s the only girl’s name that is nice. But if he is a boy... then I don’t know. There are too many boys’ names that are lovely. I can’t decide.’” Audrey’s mother was never one for tact. She wondered if her mother ever realized that this story was an insult in disguise. Her mother never wanted a girl and so her given name was nothing more than a consolation prize, an “Award for Participation.”

Audrey’s birth was almost a death; a two-for-one Tuesday pizza deal. Umbilical cord strangled around her neck, she was rushed to the ICU where she lived in a glass box and received minimal human contact for the following 48 hours. Audrey wondered if these experiences were responsible for her fascination with dying from an early age. She became offended whenever she made her suicidal intentions clear to someone and they didn’t check up on her in a week’s time to make sure she was still alive. That was one of her pet peeves, along with four-chord songs and the question “How are you?” In Audrey’s mind, that question belonged to a guild of phrases that have become utterly meaningless. The Oath of Hypocrisy is another good example. "...keep them from harm...” If heartbreak is considered in that clause, then harm is inevitable—if not by doctors, then by the questions they ask.

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